Tens of thousands of care home workers face being sacked within days because they are not fully vaccinated against Covid, unions have warned.
Figures suggest some 60,000 employees in England — roughly a tenth of the entire workforce — are still yet to turn up for two jabs, and half of these have not even had their first dose.
Homes in Manchester, Nottingham, Westminster and Birmingham face the biggest crisis, with around one in five employees still yet to be double-jabbed.
Unions today warned a mass staff exodus could be the ‘final straw’ for the sector, and leave many homes ‘no longer able to operate’.
Some sites in the South West have already stopped taking patients from hospitals, leaving ward beds blocked.
Elderly care home workers are legally required to have had both of their Covid jabs by November 11, next week, to keep working in the sector.
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced the measure in June, saying it would help to boost uptake and protect vulnerable residents.
But care home sources have called for the deadline to be delayed, and said making them compulsory has only had ‘a little’ impact on uptake.
It comes as ministers consider whether two Covid jabs should also be compulsory for NHS workers. Although, health chiefs have called for the move not to be imposed until April because of the ‘very, very’ difficult winter ahead.
The above map shows the five areas where more than one in five care home employees are still yet to get two doses of the Covid vaccine
The above graph shows the proportion of staff working in care homes for the over-65s who have received their first and second doses of the vaccine. It reveals that there was no sharp surge in uptake when the jabs were made compulsory
Care homes are already facing a staffing crisis, with more than 100,000 jobs currently unfilled in the sector.
NHS England statistics suggest 10 per cent of the 600,000 workers in the sector are yet to get fully vaccinated.
By No10’s own estimates, between 40,000 and 70,000 unvaccinated employees are currently expected to lose their jobs next week.
There are no plans to allow employees that have only got one dose of the vaccine to continue working in the sector.
NHS England figures suggest that roughly half of those who have not got two doses have already shown up for their first jab. There is a gap of at least eight weeks between shots.
Making Covid vaccine compulsory for care home workers had ‘little’ effect, industry insiders say
Making Covid vaccines compulsory for care home workers had little effect on boosting uptake, industry insiders say amid fears forcing the jabs on NHS workers will also be futile.
Ministers have made it a legal requirement for all care home staff to get their second jab by November 11 or face losing their job, with the hope of boosting uptake and protecting vulnerable residents.
But care bosses told MailOnline today the policy failed in its main objective of boosting uptake and was enforced ‘without considering’ the consequences. Critics warn it will exacerbate staffing shortages.
Latest figures suggest just 30,000 elderly care home workers have come forward for their first vaccine since parliament voted to make vaccination compulsory in July.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group — which represents providers in Yorkshire, said making jabs compulsory only had ‘a little bit of an effect’ on the 1.5million-strong sector.
Health chiefs are also on the verge of introducing the ‘no jab, no job’ policy in the NHS ahead of what is expected to be a challenging winter, despite calls to postpone the move until April to avoid a staff exodus. More than nine in 10 NHS staff are already jabbed.
Care home employees will be required to be double-jabbed to keep working in the sector from next week, but a loophole could see unvaccinated employees continue working in the sector until two days before Christmas. Care bosses fear this could spark a ‘mass exodus’ just ahead of Christmas Day — derailing family plans.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea told the Mirror: ‘Care homes now risk losing so many staff some will no longer be able to operate.
‘The sector is in crisis, this could be the final straw for many. Residents will have to find new [homes], causing anxiety.
‘It’s not too late for the Government to delay the jabs rule.’
The union’s care spokesman, Gavin Edwards, told MailOnline: ‘Jab rates were steadily rising and although the threat of being sacked will have persuaded some staff, it’s also prompted many others to leave.
‘If the Government had spent the past four months persuading and tackling the concerns of care workers in areas of low take-up, there would now be an even higher level of staff vaccinated.
‘Instead, this policy has caused alarm and worsened the staffing crisis. Losing… workers will damage care quality and leave many of those dependent on support with nowhere to turn.’
GMB national officer Rachel Harrison also warned the expected mass exodus could ‘turn a crisis into a catastrophe’.
Health chiefs are today launching a recruitment drive to persuade people to take on jobs in social care instead of abandoning the sector.
The Department of Health first announced its plans to make Covid vaccines compulsory for care home workers in June, and the following month parliament voted it into law.
But stakeholders and MPs slammed ministers for failing to publish an impact assessment, which would have considered the negative effects.
Although the double-jab requirement comes into force from next week, a potential loophole could see unvaccinated employees working in the sector until Christmas.
Ministers have set a deadline for applying for and reviewing exemptions to vaccination until December 23, meaning a mass exodus could be sparked then.
In very rare cases someone may be exempt from the vaccine if they have a severe allergy to the jab or had an adverse reaction to the first dose.
It comes after care sources told MailOnline yesterday that making Covid vaccines compulsory had ‘little effect’ on uptake in the sector.
A care source representing homes in England who asked not to be named told MailOnline: ‘You ask whether making jabs mandatory has boosted uptake. It hasn’t done.
‘We were initially aiming to get about 80 per cent uptake, and the figures show the numbers getting vaccinated have risen since they were made a requirement.
‘But we have found that calm persuasion was a lot more important for getting people vaccinated than making it mandatory.’
Some 100,000 NHS workers are yet to get at least one dose of the Covid vaccine, figures show. The above graph shows the percentage that have got their first dose (blue line) and the percentage that have got both doses (orange line)
Mike Padgham, who chairs the Independent Care Group which represents homes in Yorkshire, said: ‘My gut feeling is it has probably changed a few minds, but not completely.
‘I’ve been in Government meetings where they said they expect to lose up to 40,000 staff from the sector come the middle of this month. That’s a big hole.
‘When something is made compulsory it does put people off even more.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has warned he is ‘leaning towards’ also making vaccines compulsory for NHS workers.
A consultation on this has now been concluded, and it also considered whether the flu jab should be a requirement.
It is not clear when its results will be published, or a decision made.
But Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers which represents many trusts, has called for any policy not to be imposed until April.
He did not rule-out the policy, however, making it more likely that jabs may become compulsory in the NHS.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: ‘Our message is clear: vaccines save lives and while staff and residents in care homes have been prioritised and the majority are now vaccinated, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people.
‘Over 90 per cent of care home staff have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine and we are working closely with local authorities and care home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high quality care.’